Australia’s first indigenous archaeologist uncovers local shared history

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Attendees at the Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Group’s next Shared History seminar – Archaeology – Adding to Australia’s First Nation’s Stories – on Thursday, 2 August, are set to be taken on a unique journey exploring how Australian archaeology has the opportunity to develop the foundations for a shared identity.

Event co-organisers Meredith Walker and Helen Cooke said Aboriginal Australians of our First Nations were not actively involved in the early research and excavations in Australia, but now Traditional Owners are encouraged to be involved in all aspects of fieldwork on Indigenous sites, more engaged in researching their community and completing degrees in archaeology.

“Our keynote speaker for this event, Dave Johnston is a trailblazer in this field being the first Indigenous Australian to gain a degree in archaeology and having worked on more than 2,000 heritage projects across eastern Australia,” said Ms Cooke.

“He is recognised as a world leader in the field of Australian Indigenous archaeology, has been instrumental in the development of the Australian Government’s guidelines for Indigenous heritage and has developed a code of ethics for the World Archaeological Congress.”

Mr Johnston is keen to share through this seminar, how Australian archaeology has grown to have a more inclusive approach and will describe his experiences as an Indigenous archaeologist.

“Australia is at the forefront of explaining world history, our origins, journeys and ways of living and archaeological research provides a way we can meaningfully respect and value Indigenous peoples and piece together a shared history,” said Mr Johnston.

Helen Cooke who has a long career working in Indigenous archaeology will present a short history of Australian archaeology and will be joined by a number of other speakers including Eleanor Crosby, a Senior Consultant at Turnix an archaeological consultancy on the Gold Coast, and Bill Simmich who is tracing the processing of the ‘Bungwahl’ fern as an important Aboriginal food.”

“Our focus is on sharing and learning from one another in an inclusive and friendly environment, and enhancing relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members,” said Ms Walker.

“Our seminars offer a really interactive and interesting way to connect with Indigenous culture and we encourage community members from all walks of life to come along and learn how the oral history and traditional knowledge of living elders, as well as many new scientific techniques, contribute to a shared archaeology benefit.”

Traditional Owner, Aunty Bridgette Chilli Davis – CEO and founder of Mooloolah Kabi Kabi Lands Council Aboriginal Corporation, will conduct a Welcome to Country for participants. Aunty Bridgette and Kerry Jones – Traditional Owner, Bunya Bunya Country Aboriginal Corporation, will also share their thoughts on local heritage projects.

Sunshine Coast Reconciliation Group is supported by a community grant from the Sunshine Coast Council and by Reconciliation Queensland.

The Our Shared History Seminar will be held on Thursday, 2 August from 9.00am until 2.30pm at the Secondary Lecture Theatre, Matthew Finders Anglican College, 1-47 Stringybark Road, Buderim. Previous events have attracted more than 80 people and so it is advisable to book early to secure a seat. Tickets cost between $25 and $35 and include morning tea and a light lunch.

To find out more or to book your place please visit
or contact Meredith Walker on or 0425 257 999.